Interview with Marko from Sugarcult
- November 15th, 2003 -
@ Infinity, Williamsville (Buffalo), NY
For the record, please state your name, something totally random about yourself, and your greatest fear.
Let me think about this for a second. The hardest part is the first part. Oh Yeah! My name is Marko. Something random about myself is that, I lived in Rome, Italy from the age of 1 month old until 3 years old. Before that I lived in Philadelphia until I was 1 month old and I lived in Santa Barbara, California from 3 years old until more or less, the present, and my greatest fear is not living life to the fullest, missing out on life.
What's a typical day like for Sugarcult?
A typical day for Sugarcult on the road is, driving. Lots of driving and showing up at the club, figuring out what's going on where you are in the world and what's nearby. Then, get ready for the show. It's a very exciting life. Lots of driving.
What was the band aiming for with Start Static? Did it get the reaction you were hoping for?
It got more than the reaction we were hoping for. What we were aiming for was the best first record we could make. Maybe sell a couple thousand copies. Instead, now we can't drive to a city or fly to a country where there aren't people who don't know our songs and that's pretty amazing. We were just a small band from Santa Barbara and made a record and now we're in Buffalo, where there are people who care about what my greatest fear is.
Buffalo really isn't that great.
Buffalo is a pretty cool city. I mean, it's the home and creator of the Buffalo Wings, and The Goo Goo Dolls are from Buffalo. And the guy who produced our new record, Gavin MacKillop, got his ass beat in Buffalo.
Are you serious?
Yeah because he was wearing a baseball hat of the team that beat the Buffalo team, so he got beat up. He was producing a Goo Goo Dolls record at the time. So yeah, Buffalo is all right.
Tell us about the new record, Palm Trees and Powerlines. What direction did you guys take the music?
We just kept moving forward. That's the direction you always want to stay in. You know, you never want to go backwards. We don't want to re-create what we already have. I mean, you wouldn't want to go back to the way you were when you were thirteen. Start Static was cool. We're happy with it, it's hanging up in the hallway at our mom's house, but we got to keep on moving forward and the new record is just that. Hopefully, we're better musicians now and we're more confident as a band and it's just a natural progression. The songs and everything are just more confident altogether.
What are three things that just annoy the hell out of you?
- Marko then abruptly interrupts -
Do you want a coke or something? We have a bottle of Vodka here. What? I'm just trying to be a good host. Okay, what are three things that just what?
Annoy the hell out of you.
Three things that annoy me are people that are lazy and wait for life to come to them instead of going after the things that they want. That really annoys me. People dragging me down when I see them being lazy. They kind of suck the air out of the room. People that are overly negative all the time, yeah that's kind of a bummer to me. The other thing that annoys me is, the way people kind of except junk culture. They accept crappy songs on the radio, and crappy foods in restaurants, and crappy architecture when new buildings go up. That's something that really bums me out. I don't think that people realize how bad it's going to be and they just kind of accept it and I think it goes hand it hand with the first thing, with the idea of being lazy. It's just like, ah who cares you know? People just start accepting those lowered standards and then businesses start catering to those lowered standards and the world becomes not such an interesting place. Cars are made with less pride, food is made with less pride. Standards just start going down in the name of progress and I think that's the opposite of the way things should be. Things should get better, not worse.
If you were to create a soundtrack to your life, what songs would you put on it?
Oh wow that's cool. Let's see, what songs would I put on it. You are catching me off guard. I'm not good at doing in person interviews, I'm better at it online, because I get to think about it, then write. I don't know if I could name the exact songs that I would put on it, but I think I would be able to name some bands, that sort of stuck with me. Songs by Cheap Trick. There would have to be a song by the Ramones. There would have to be some Rollingstones, because I'm old fashion.
What are your fondest childhood memories?
Oh gosh. We traveled a lot when I was a kid, because my mom was a modern dance choreographer and traveled around the world, so that was a lot of fun. I would say the time that I found a guitar in the trash behind our house and I was jumping on my moms bed, and I tripped, and the guitar broke the window and fell out the window, so my mom took it away from me for a little while. I spent the last few years of my music career trying to create that night after night. Jumping up and down on my moms bed, breaking glass. And, I would say, there were a couple years when I went to summer camp, and it was really fun. Oh! I think this may be my best childhood memory, when I was nine years old, it was the first time I ever french kissed a girl. It was when we were playing truth or dare and it was awesome. I figured out early on, that french kissing was a sweet thing to do. So since then, I've had a lot of practice, I got an early start. At the age of nine.
I actually heard that the name Sugarcult was inspired by a group of lesbians, what can you tell me about it?
I can tell you that our singer Tim, when he first moved out of his parents house, the first apartment he moved into he was across the hall from five lesbians. They were actually a lesbian gang and called themselves, The Sugarcult. They were like, lesbian football players. And so Tim sought it out that if he were ever in a band, he would name it Sugarcult. So basically, it was name the band Sugarcult, or get your ass kicked by five lesbians. I, on the other hand, would have opted to get my ass beat by five lesbians. I would've enjoyed it, but we stuck with the name Sugarcult.
Is the music business what you expected it to be or is it totally different?
Well, I think it does surprise you a little bit. Early on when you're a kid, people always think, oh I'm going to get a record deal and I'm going to go on tour, and I'm going to be a big rock star. That's not really the case. You still have to work as hard as ever, if not 10x harder if you're doing this professionally. Once you put in perspective what the music business is really about, it kind of removes your rose tinted glasses about the whole thing. You can be okay with it. Once you know that your record company is more interested in making money and keeping their business alive, than they are interested in putting music out, you can kind of accept it and go okay that's cool. Once you know that radio stations are more interested in selling commericals and keeping their advertisers happy than they are in playing music that they actually like, then you kind of just understand it. It's a bummer, but it makes you appreciate things like what you're doing. You have your own website. Young people who have their own websites or people in college who are doing their own radio shows, people who work at independant record stores, because they love music so much. It makes you appreciate that level in the music industry way more. Or the people who put on shows, because they go out on a limb and take a chance because they want to bring music to their town. They want to bring music into that corner of the world, into their lives, into their groups of friends. You get way more respect for those people because it's people like you who really deserve the credit.
Seeing you guys are from California, what is your opinion on Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming the governor?
I personally think it's really fucking embarassing. We were watching one of his movies the other day, and not only is he a really bad actor but it's really embarassing watching this guy, it's like a joke. You're like yeah the terminator!! There's nobody out there whos like yeah Arnold Schwarzenegger!! It's not like his name comes out in those of the great, like Mel Gibson. That guy is a fuckin clown! First he was Mr. Universe, then he was the Terminator, and now he's the Governor. It's just I find it really hard to take him seriously.
If you could beat up any celebrity, who would it be and why?
It would be, Arnold Schwarzenegger!! He's lame!
When writing songs, what influences the process? Do you think about the type of music you're writing or do you think about pleasing the record label?
No. We never think about pleasing the record label. That's the wrong reason to do it. You're not making music to please the record company. You are making music for yourself and the band. So inderectly you're making music for the people who like your band. It's kind of a hard question to answer. You make the music you want as a band and then go out and play it for people and the people who it resinates inside, and the ones who come back, are the ones who are your fans. Then it becomes hard to tell whether you are making music for the fans or for yourself. So what you're really doing is making music for all of the above. You are making music for yourself, but there are people out there who like it, and you are making it for the fans. It's influenced by everything in your life. Experiences that happen to you, the movies you watch, the books you read, the records you hear, the bands you tour with. It's just never really thought out. You never really sit there and say, I'm going to write a song that sounds like Something Corporate or, I'm going to write a song that sounds like The Used. You just start coming up with ideas and you go at it. You just want to make music your own. Don't be tempted to follow the trends. Just stay original. Just do your own thing and keep your image intact, because it's tempting. Like, you hear Hot Hot Heat on the radio, and you're like that song's fucking cool! But that's wrong, because you'll never be as good. It's pointless to be the second best version of what's already out there. It's better to be your own. Like we're Sugarcult.
What as a band has been the biggest accomplishment so far?
I'd say our biggest accomplishment so far would be, selling 300,000 copies of our first record and traveling all over the United States. Touring for two and a half years straight has probably been our biggest accomplishment so far. For two and a half years we have probably toured the U.S. about seven or eight times, Europe three times, and Japan twice. That's amazing.
Do Japan fans freak you out?
No it's awesome. It's really amazing. They are like Beatles fans. They meet you at the airport with gifts. It's pretty incredible. They brought us these Japanse karate type pajamas to wear. It's pretty neat. You come home with so many gifts its unbelievable. I mean, some of it I have to give to my friends because it's so much. We actually had a fan from Japan fly out to a couple shows on this tour and she brought me couch cusions of each of the Ramones, seeing I'm a big fan of them. They are the coolest things.
Do you have any useless talents that have absolutely nothing to do with music?
Oh god. Well, I'm really good in bed. That doesn't have to do with music. I think I'm a pretty good cook and I don't think I have any talents.
Who is your favorite one hit wonder?
I'm trying to think of something more recent, because when I think of one hit wonders, I think of 867-5309 or Jessie's Girl. My Sharona. Yeah, that one song by Sugarcult. Yeah that was a good one. I'm gonna go with Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield that or 867-5309.
If you were president for a day, what would you do?
If I were for a day? I don't know what you can get done in a day.
Okay, what would you do if you were president?
Okay. I would get Arnold Schwarzenegger out of office! I would probably legalize marijuana and pardon all the people that are in jail for minor offences for little things like not paying parking tickets or having a joint on them. I think I would change the way jails are run. I would make it more about reforming people and less about punishing people and keeping them locked up for the rest of their lives. I would probably try to do what I could about the homeless. I would also make it illegal for big companies to own all radio stations in the world. Like, clearchannel, because I think that's really unfair and people shouldn't have to listen to Nickelback all day. I would deport Nickelback. Just kidding!
Why should people come to your live show? What sets Sugarcult apart from other bands?
I think that for no other reason other than why should they see any band's live show. You can't fully 100% experience it by listening to it on the stereo. You have to experience live to feel the vibe between the crowd and the band. You need the energy. You can't download a live show and get the same vibe. You have to be apart of it. That's the best part of it. When you go to a concert, you're just as much as a part of it as I am when I'm up there playing. It's cool.
How would you describe success?
I would say success is when you are doing something that you love to do with people you like. I would say in that respect we've been successful because we sought out our band. We got four guys together made some songs and go out everynight and play for people. Everything else is like icing on the cake. Whether you get to make money or travel on a tour bus, or have a video on MTV, that's not success. Success is having a band and having songs. If you got that and enjoy what you are doing then that's all you can really ask for. Sucess is way more about how you feel about what you are doing.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yeah, I'll ask you something. What do you want to do with your life?
I would really enjoy something in the music industry. Managing a band would be cool or an Entertainment lawyer for bands, or something a long the lines of what I'm doing now. Journalism doesn't sound so bad. I plan on going to college for music business. So wherever that path leads me.
Nice. Those are all very cool things. I also would like to add some band shout outs. Jackson, our friends on this tour. I'm sure you can go to their site linked directly off ours. A really cool band called Maxeen. They're really good. Well there's this band called Sugarcult.
Yeah, I've heard of them! Are they any good?
Yeah, they're all right. Their guitar player talks too much. So I would say a lot of the new bands coming up and a shout out to all the local bands, doing their thing.
Well thank you so much for doing the interview!
Thank you it's been fun and I'm sorry that it was boring! Enjoy the show!